“In Anticipation of the Fiftieth Anniversary” exhibition opened at the Josip Račić Gallery

On 9 May, numerous artists, art historians, and art enthusiasts gathered at the “Josip Račić” Gallery of the National Museum of Modern Art to attend the opening of the exhibition “In Anticipation of the Fiftieth Anniversary”. Next year marks five decades of activity for this small city gallery, which has been operating within the National Museum of Modern Art (formerly the Modern Gallery) since 1992, so the exhibition serves as a precursor to this significant jubilee.
After the director of the National Museum of Modern Art, Branko Franceschi, delivered the introductory address, the exhibition’s concept was presented by Tihana Galić, the curator from NMMA and author of the exhibition, while the painter Vlado Jakelić shared anecdotes from the Gallery’s founding era.
The exhibition and its accompanying documentary materials provided a platform for multimedia artist Ivo Deković and painters Jadranka Fatur, Vlado Jakelić, and Marijana Muljević, among other notable figures on the Croatian art scene who have showcased their work at the Josip Račić Gallery, to reflect on the occasions when their solo exhibitions graced this venue.
Utilizing carefully chosen pieces, primarily sourced from the Museum’s holdings and created by artists featured during this timeframe, this noteworthy exhibition offers a glimpse into a portion of the venue’s artistic legacy. It evokes recollections of past exhibitions and the artists who, through diverse artistic expressions and thematic emphases, contributed to shaping its identity. Additionally, it presents a concise historical narrative of exhibition practices within the Gallery spanning the last fifty years. The limited number of artworks on display primarily stems from constraints imposed by the size of the exhibition space. Nevertheless, it forms a representative sample of the venue’s rich exhibition history.

Among the first to view the works by Zlatko Kauzlarić Atač, Vlado Jakelić, Jadranka Fatur, Marijana Muljević, Ivo Deković, Nicholas Roerich, Đuro Seder, and Stipan Tadić, along with some archival copies of accompanying publications from numerous exhibitions and the documentary film “Jadranka Fatur, Paintings” by Hrvoje Juvančić, filmed in 1987 at the Josip Račić Gallery, were the visual artist Amela Frankl, painters Marijana and Izvor Pende, sculptor Peruško Bogdanić, art historians Krunoslav Kamenov, Dubravka Osrečki Jakelić, Marija and Zdenko Tonković, Guido Quien, Branka Benčić, director of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka, cultural manager Ivan Maruna. The cultural community of Zagreb has the opportunity to view the exhibition until 2 June.

A bilingual catalogue, designed by Ana Zubić, in Croatian and English was published to accompany the exhibition, featuring an essay by art historian Tihana Galić.

Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Reproductions: from the exhibition opening / Photo Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

The NMMA’s program “Art Under the Stars” on the occasion of 29th Educational Museum Action (EMA)


The thematic focal point of the 29th Educational Museum Action (EMA) is the intersection of art and science. The exhibition of Zdravko Milić, on view at the Josip Račić Gallery from 6 to 30 June, will present evocative works by an artist whose oeuvre is characterised by curiosity about themes from science fiction.
The series of paintings titled “Iapetodrome” depicts surreal celestial scenes and encourages contemplation on the mysteries of the cosmos, with a particular focus on Iapetus, one of Saturn’s moons, known for its strikingly contrasting surface features.

As an introductory event related to the aforementioned exhibition, and in connection with this year’s Educational Museum Action by the Croatian Museum Association, Marta Radman, a curator in the Education and Promotion Department of the National Museum of Modern Art conceived the program “Art Under the Stars.”
The NMMA’s program “Art Under the Stars” is realised in collaboration with the Zagreb Observatory, and it consists of a short lecture about Saturn, which will be held on 8 May at 7 p.m. at Opatička 22, by a scientific employee of the Zagreb Observatory. After the lecture, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the view of the celestial expanses through a telescope...
Admission is free!

(left) 29th EMA Poster
(right) Zdravko Milić’s painting from the series “Iapetodrome,” which the artist will present in June at his eponymous exhibition at the Josip Račić Gallery. Photo Zdravko Milić / Courtesy of the artist

Staš Kleindienst in an interwiev for the National Museum of Modern Art


NMMA: According to Goran Milovanović, curator of your first solo exhibition at the Josip Račić Gallery in Zagreb, you are one of the most prominent painters in Slovenia. How did your professional journey begin and evolve?

STAŠ KLEINDIENST: There is nothing particularly remarkable about it, my interest in visual art has been longstanding, and pursuing studies in that field felt like the most logical path for me. But when you actually start studying, completely new worlds and possibilities, previously unknown to you, begin to open up. This fascination with the unknown persists to this day, and I believe it is crucial for the vocation of an artist.

NMMA: You are presenting ten oil paintings created in the last four years to the cultural audience of Zagreb, at the aforementioned exhibition in the Josip Račić Gallery. This period was marked by the coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns, social distancing... How much time did you spend in nature, and did you connect with it in a deeper way? How much did this global situation influence the creation of your Antiarcadia series?

STAŠ KLEINDIENST: The most significant shift in my perception of nature occurred when I relocated from Ljubljana to Vipava in 2019. Previously, my studio was in the basement, offering a view of the neighbouring house façade. In Vipava, however, I was presented with a completely different view of the landscape’s structure, atmospheric effects, ambiance..., which consequently began to appear in my works. To the extent that the atmosphere became the main protagonist of my paintings. The pandemic itself did not have a significant impact on this; I also consciously avoided dealing with themes related to the coronavirus.

NMMA: What distinguishes the perception of the aforementioned landscapes from that of your earlier works?

STAŠ KLEINDIENST: My landscapes are always a product of fiction rooted in reality, in memories, emotions, and fleeting glimpses of scenery. As previously noted, the foremost shift lies in the perception of the scene’s atmosphere.

NMMA: How nostalgic are you, and is this reflected in your paintings?

STAŠ KLEINDIENST: My paintings are mostly created as a result of reflections on the present time and the world we live in, and I believe there is no room for nostalgia in that. If it does appear in a motif, it is for a very specific purpose.

NMMA: In the foreword of the accompanying exhibition catalogue, the exhibition curator writes that time is a significant category for you? In what sense?

STAŠ KLEINDIENST: Time is always an intriguing category in painting because it is a static, two-dimensional medium. In my work, I’m primarily interested in the fusion of space and time into one, creating a sort of post-time, a time without time, which allows me to open up the painting to narratives that I couldn’t imagine without that fusion.

NMMA: Apart from painting, have you ever expressed yourself in any other medium?

STAŠ KLEINDIENST: Yes, I gave up painting towards the end of my studies at the Academy in Ljubljana, and worked, as part of various collectives, on several conceptual art projects related to theory, installations, video. During that time, I also wrote a lot. I later transferred that knowledge and working methodology back into painting.

NMMA: Who are your artistic role models?

STAŠ KLEINDIENST: Inspirations often change, but every now and then, names like Edward Hopper, Liu Xiaodong, Nicole Eisenman, Edvard Munch, Verne Dawson come to mind.

NMMA: Are you familiar with the work of the Croatian painter Ljubo Babić and his landscapes, and do you find any connections between them and your own reflections on the same theme?

STAŠ KLEINDIENST: No, I must admit that I am not familiar with Ljubo Babić’s work. But I’ll gladly explore his art in the future.

NMMA: Where would you like to present your work one day?

STAŠ KLEINDIENST: I don’t have any particular preferences. Probably where the audience is genuinely interested in art, as that is the main reason for visiting galleries.

Prepared by: Lana Šetka
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb


The National Museum of Modern Art is delighted to present an online exhibition titled “Academies, Academicisms...” on its website https://nmmu.hr/en/virtual-museum/. The exhibition is conceived by Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum consultant and head of the Collection of 19th-Century Painting (until the 1898 “Croatian Salon”). Visitors can easily navigate through the bilingual online exhibition catalogue, which is divided into several chapters: Cultivating Creative Freedom, the Munich Academy and the Art School in Zagreb, Shifting the Focus Solely onto Art, A New Substance of the Term, Through the Croatian Art History; and browse the catalogue of works and reproductions. The online exhibition “Academies, Academicisms...” marks the beginning of a series of virtual exhibitions planned by the National Museum of Modern Art, which are aimed at maintaining engagement with the audience throughout the extensive renovation of its headquarters, the Vranyczany-Dobrinović Palace. During this period, NMMA is continuously developing its exhibition program at the Josip Račić Gallery, while a part of its collection titled “One World” remains on display at the Providur Palace in Zadar until the end of 2024. Moreover, the NMMA is occasionally staging a series of visiting exhibitions throughout Croatia. Since 2020, NMMA has been consistently presenting its collection on its website and social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram through its “Discover” series where reproduced artworks are accompanied by curatorial texts.
What is academicism and academic art, and are these terms interchangeable? Which artists typify the ideals of academic art? What has constituted academic art in the past, and what is it today? To what extent can this term be redefined and/or rehabilitated? And to what degree does it overlap with the concept of tradition? These are just some of the questions that this exhibition and essay are trying to address. As a general rule, we should first define the term we are discussing, so as to avoid any potential ambiguities. Based on the definition of the Institute of Lexicography, academicism in art presupposes the use of well-established (educational, traditional) procedures, technical skills without invention. According to the historical sequence of meanings it has acquired, the term academicism primarily refers to the principles and method of instruction at the historical academies (Academy of Saint Luke in Rome, Academy of Fine Arts in Paris), and then the works and critical judgments created based on those principles by the members of the academy, professors and students, or, in turn, adherents of their methods… However, as the short article of the Lexicographical Institute further elaborates, the meaning of the terms “academicism/academic painting/academic artist” has not been as clear cut throughout the history of artistic creation. On the one hand, academic education is coveted and praised, it is taken as confirmation of creativity of the highest order (when issuing praise and/or trying to sell a particular artist’s work, one often hears the phrase, he/she is an academic artist, regardless of the stylistic expression), and on the other, there is a juxtaposing rebellious attitude against the academic method of artistic education. It is considered conservative, regressive and even backwards, especially after the second half of the 19th century. This refers to works that insist on strict rules and non-inventive eclectic work procedures. The question that arises is whether the opposing sides refer to the same term. We will, therefore, briefly try to consider the reasons for such attitudes and the very concept to which they refer. Coincidentally, all artists who study and graduate from the academies of fine art are considered academic artists, but they are not all viewed in the framework of the mostly undesirable concept of 19th century academicism, as the term is still commonly used, that is, in the sense in which it was defined by the first modernists. Academicism is also inevitably associated with the concept of “tradition”, which, although somewhat superior is also mostly used as a phrase of censure, or at best, it is vaguely approbative, with the implication, as to the work approved, of some pleasing archaeological reconstruction. At the same time, we forget that tradition is not a petrified category and that its thesaurus is continuously being augmented, without us even realising it. – from the introductory essay by the exhibition curator Dajana Vlaisavljević

Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Francesco Hayez, Hector Bidding Farewell to Andromache, 1811 / oil on canvas / 165.1 cm x 154 cm / MG - 43
Nikola Mašić, Portrait of a Little Girl, 1881 / oil on canvas / 62 x 56 cm / MG - 267
Menci Clement Crnčić (1865 – 1930), Slavonian Shelling Corn, 1891 / oil on canvas,  109 x 108 cm / MG-431
Celestin Mato Medović (1857 – 1920) / Study of an Old Man , 1890 / oil on canvas, 41,5 x 32,5 cm / MG-323
Stipan Tadić (1986), Self-Portrait with Lavender (at 22 years old), , 2009./ oil on canvas , 57 x 45 cm / MG-7295
Josip Račić , In Front of the Mirror, 1908 /oil on cardboard, 111,5 x 83 cm / MG-2391
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb


Staš Kleindienst’s exhibition Antiarcadia opened at the Josip Račić Gallery

On 9 April, the National Museum of Modern Art from Zagreb and the Božidar Jakac Gallery from Kostanjevica na Krki presented a joint project – Staš Kleindienst’s exhibition Antiarcadia at the Josip Račić Gallery. According to Goran Milovanović, the director of the Božidar Jakac Gallery and the curator of the exhibition, this Slovenian artist, who is staging his first solo show in front of the Zagreb audience, is certainly one of the most prominent and intriguing painters of the middle generation in Slovenia at this moment. Ten oil paintings on canvas produced between 2020 and 2024 have been selected for display, sourced from public and private collections in Slovenia. After the introductory speech by Branko Franceschi, the director of the National Museum of Modern Art, in which he highlighted the continuous successful collaboration between the two museum institutions, initiated in 2021 with the exhibition Ties That Bind – Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and Slovenian Artists Between the Two Wars at the National Museum of Modern Art in Zagreb, Goran Milovanović, the director of the Božidar Jakac Gallery, spoke about the artist Staš Kleindienst and his previous work, as well as the exhibition concept. The exhibition was opened by Miha Fatur, the Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Zagreb.

What is it about Staš Kleindienst’s paintings that intrigues us so much? From a central vantage point in the gallery, enabling us to take in all the displayed artworks at once, we encounter certain familiar scenes that are ingrained in our memories. The landscapes gradually receding towards the horizon are intimate and familiar, and their appearance stirs a feeling of comfort and homeliness within us. Perhaps it is precisely this moment, referred to as “our expression,” that Ljubo Babić sought in the landscapes of Croatian Zagorje and Dalmatia. But that is certainly not Kleindienst’s concept, who always adds small formats to the exhibition installations of large-scale paintings, where the visualizations of stories are even more condensed, drawing us in with a certain magnetism.

Among the first to visit the exhibition were sculptor Peruško Bogdanić, painters Amela Frankl, Duje Jurić, Marijana Pende, Nika Radić, Nenad Marasović, Duško Šibl, Predrag Todorović, Ksenija Turčić, art historians Miha Colner, Krunoslav Kamenov, Feđa Gavrilović, and Leila Topić, graphic designer Ana Zubić, as well as the co-founder and director of the Murtić Foundation, Ranko Murtić, with his wife, painter Nina Atević Murtić, Rumjana Meštrović, daughter-in-law of sculptor Ivan Meštrović, and Vesna Meštrić, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, along with Sanjin Mihelić, director of the Museum of Arts and Crafts.
The exhibition of Staš Kleindienst, realized with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia and the City of Zagreb, can be visited at the Josip Račić Gallery until 5 May. It is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue in Croatian and English featuring an essay by Goran Milovanović and designed by Ana Zubić.

Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © Nacionalni muzej moderne umjetnosti, Zagreb, 2024.

Predrag Todorović in an interview for NMMU


NMMU: Tell us something about the works presented at your solo exhibition at the Josip Račić Gallery?
PREDRAG TODOROVIĆ: The exhibition showcases larger-format works created during 2023 and 2024, so we titled the exhibition simply – Paintings 2023 - 2024, with the intention and without the need to direct the visitors’ focus, associations, and projections, (perception) in any direction or sense. In terms of formal and visual aspects, these are paintings with emphasised texture bordering on relief, so they seemingly resemble the poeticism of Art Informel, although in concept and construction, they are more Fluxus-oriented, conceptual. Specifically, as an artist, I withdraw completely from participating in the construction of the painting’s appearance; I detach it from the studio floor and frame it randomly, without looking at its front. I thus obtain unlearned and unexpected content and “excess” through the painting.

NMMU: How have you changed throughout your professional career, and consequently, your works? How do they come into being, and to what extent are you inclined towards experimentation?
PREDRAG TODOROVIĆ: As could already be inferred from the answer to the first question, multiple aesthetics, practices, media, and techniques always intertwine in my works. They are intertextual; I could call them visual bastards. In this regard – it is logical that I always experiment; I am simply wired that way. Since my final year of studies, I stopped limiting the painting by medium, techniques, or procedures. In dialogue with the work, I always find another way to help it develop in the direction it prefers. In that sense, I have also changed and arrived at some of “my own” materials and visual language.
I’ve used all sorts of materials, from cobwebs, lime, cement, plastic foils, juice straws, to objects taken from reality that I would print on different surfaces, and so on. These are mostly non-artistic materials whose use was determined by my thematic determination and curiosity.

NMMU: What inspires you? What themes have you explored, and are there any that are constantly present in your work?
PREDRAG TODOROVIĆ: Now I can confidently say that there is only one theme present throughout my entire body of work, and that is my preoccupation with experiencing the comprehensive through moments and small fragments of objective reality. The comprehensive in the slivers that we can encompass with our gaze. What is everything made of and what is at the core of it all? That has always been my theme. That’s why all illusory things like narrative discourse, colour, etc., have disappeared from my work.
The means through which I could address reality are the simple materials I discovered in my surroundings. Working with them has become my visual language and grammar. Being a tactile type, I chose the poetics of relationships, light-dark, rough-gentle, sharp-smooth, hard-soft; that is my visual language for talking about experiencing the comprehensive through fragments. I am inspired when I notice the presence of the infinite through some small, unassuming sliver.

NMMU: Who would you single out as an artistic role model?
PREDRAG TODOROVIĆ: There are many talented artists with beautiful works. Today, this is especially evident through social media and the internet. As I mentioned, aesthetically, my work is an intertext of various artistic postulates, so it doesn’t make sense for me to list visually appealing artists. I would therefore mention one who, through just a few conversations, left the most striking, profound trace on me. Not in the artistic sense, but in the existential, warm, human sense, and that is Ivan Picelj. Like a true Zen master, that man, with his wisdom and experience, set me back on my feet when I was at my lowest and when I had completely stopped working.

NMMU: Do you remember who bought your first painting?
PREDRAG TODOROVIĆ: Yes, if we exclude a few unserious purchases from childhood, then it was a university professor, not from the art academy, while I was in my first or second year.

NMMU: How much time do you spend in the studio and what can you not do without?
PREDRAG TODOROVIĆ: I usually spend 6-8 hours in the studio every day, sometimes more, sometimes less. It is not always productive work. I have a lot of downtime, simply “staring into space.”
What I cannot do without are coffee, paper, black ink...

Interviewed by: Lana Šetka
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Tanja Tevih © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, Zagreb, 2024

On 14 March, an exhibition by Predrag Todorović titled “Paintings 2023 – 2024” was opened in front of numerous guests at the Josip Račić Gallery

On 14 March, an exhibition by Predrag Todorović titled “Paintings 2023 – 2024” was opened in front of numerous guests at the Josip Račić Gallery. Following an introductory speech by Branko Franceschi, the director of the National Museum of Modern Art, the artist’s previous works as well as his recent pieces selected for presentation in the exhibition were introduced by Klaudio Štefančić, the NMMA senior curator and head of the Collection of Watercolours, Drawings and Prints and the New Media Collection, who is also the curator of the exhibition and the author of the accompanying catalogue text.
Among the first to admire Todorović’s large-scale paintings in mixed media, which the cultural audience of Zagreb will have the opportunity to view at the Josip Račić Gallery until 7 April, were painters Grgur Akrap, Jagor Bučan, Tomislav Buntak, Fedor Fischer, Duje Jurić, Željko Lapuh, Ivica Malčić, David Maljković, Mak Melcher with his wife, the theatre, film, and television actress Mia Melcher, Zoltan Novak, Izvor Pende, Marijana Pende, Nika Radić, Damir Sokić, Zlatan Vehabović, Roberta Vilić, sculptor Nikola Vrljić, as well as art historians Vanja Babić, Feđa Gavrilović, Krunoslav Kamenov, Nataša Ivančević, Iva Körbler, Josip Joško Tešija, Leila Topić, Janka Vukmir... and the artist’s friends from the Department of Culture of the City of Rijeka.
Nikolina Radić Štivić, the deputy head of the City Office for Culture, International Relations and Civil Society of the City of Zagreb, also attended the opening.

(...) An equally useful question in the interpretation of Todorović’s painting is “What can painting depict today?” Modern artists have discovered new modes of expression, but over time, their potentials have become conventional. As often emphasised by Charles Harrison, British artist and theorist, abstract expressionist painters have left behind serious issues related to questions of authenticity and originality. These issues were systematically analysed within the framework of Conceptual art, for example, in the works of Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Morris, and others, or in the domestic context, in the works of Braco Dimitrijević, Goran Trbuljak, Boris Demur, and others. Thus, from the perspective of 1980s postmodern art, there is no difference between abstract painting and Conceptual art, as both tendencies disregard figurative representation and insist on universal artistic problems and values.
Taking into account that Todorović received the Adolf Gottlieb award for his artistic work in 2021 from a renowned American art foundation, it is possible to view his activity as a kind of renewal of modernist artistic principles within the constellation of contemporary culture, primarily the universal language of abstraction and the cosmopolitan nature of art (cosmopolitanism as a phenomenon that is completely opposite to globalization). (..) Klaudio Štefančić, from the text in the exhibition catalogue.

Photo: Tanja Tevih © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2024

The National Museum of Modern Art supports the #itisnottoolate Morske Livade project and invites you to help by voting on the New European Bauhaus platform from March 6 to 27, 2024 that this project, and with it Karin, Obrovac and Zadar become New European Bauhaus Champions

The National Museum of Modern Art supports the #itisnottoolate Morske Livade project and invites you to help by voting on the New European Bauhaus platform https://prizes.new-european-bauhaus.europa.eu/?etrans=hr from March 6 to 27, 2024 that this project, and with it Karin, Obrovac and Zadar become New European Bauhaus Champions.
#ItIsNotTooLate Morske Livade - the only Croatian project chosen among 50 finalists in a competition of 530 projects from all over Europe for the New European Bauhaus Champions 2024 #NewEuropeanBauhaus award in the Reconnecting with nature category https://morskelivade.com/projekt-itisnottoolate-morske.. ./
You can find out more about the project and its values at: https://morskelivade.com
#itIsNotTooLate - Seagrass Beds Showreel
#itIsNotTooLate - Seagrass Beds Film


The exhibition “Revealed Otherness” at the City Museum Križevci is part of a series of NMMA’s visiting exhibitions

On 22 February, the Art Gallery of the City Museum Križevci hosted the opening of the exhibition Revealed Otherness. This exhibition is part of a series of NMMA’s visiting exhibitions, which the Museum will present in other museum and gallery institutions in Croatia and beyond until the completion of the comprehensive renovation of its headquarters, the Vranyczany-Dobrinović Palace. Alongside introductory speeches by Tea Hatadi, the director of the City Museum Križevci, and Branko Franceschi, the director of the National Museum of Modern Art, the exhibition concept was presented to the guests by the NMMA curator and author of the exhibition, Marta Radman. In her speech, this art historian said: “This marks the beginning of my journey in navigating institutions and curating exhibitions and projects. My career at the National Museum of Modern Art began with work on our exhibition in Zadar. The presentation of this concept and my aim to exhibit diverse perspectives and works from a varied cultural milieu are both featured here, and I am extremely pleased to have the chance to showcase them in this setting.”
The exhibition Revealed Otherness features 26 selected works from the collections of the National Museum of Modern Art and the City Museum Križevci, and encompasses paintings, sculptures, photography, photocollage, installations, tapestries, and objects. It will be on view at the Art Gallery of the City Museum Križevci until 16 March 2024.

Artists featured in the exhibition include: NMMA: Miroslav Kraljević, Goranka Vrus Murtić, Ivan Sabolić, Anabel Zanze, Oscar Nemon, Valerije Michieli, Zvonimir Lončarić, Vera Fischer, Dimitrije Popović, Milivoj Uzelac, Sava Šumanović, Nives Kavurić – Kurtović, Oskar Herman, Neda Miranda Blažević – Krietzman, Ana Opalić, Sonja Kovačić – Tajčević, Anka Krizmanić, Vlasta Delimar, Renata Vranyczany Azinović, Ivan Kožarić, Milena Lah, Vlasta Žanić.
CMK: Jelka Struppi-Wolkensperg, Nasta Rojc, Paula Kiepach-Nestoroff, Peppino Wieternik.

The exhibition, which can be viewed at the Art Gallery in Križevci until 16 March, is accompanied by a text by Marta Radman, who writes: “ (...) In shaping the narrative for this exhibition, the aim is to avoid sensationalist exaggeration of meaning or attribution of importance where it does not exist. The intention is to offer some of the possible interpretations of the presented works. Our perception is shaped by what we have learned to recognise, so it is crucial to constantly question and broaden our perspective. By doing so, we can discover alternative interpretations that enrich our understanding of art within different cultural frameworks, surpassing mere aesthetic appreciation. By updating historical fragments of otherness, the exhibition challenges the limitations imposed by the modernist paradigm of art history and calls for critical reflection. The aim is to present the phenomenon of otherness within the cultural production represented in the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art, starting from the second half of the 19th century onwards. By presenting 22 works from the NMMA Collection alongside four works from the CMK Collection, we uncover and examine the social preconditions, self-censorship of artists, and the significance of gender and sexual identity in creative expression, addressing feminist issues, decolonization, and gender and LGBTQI+ theories. (…)

Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

American visual artist Fritzie Brown after her return to New York about her impressions of the opening of her exhibition (No) Temporarily at Josip Račić Gallery

NMMU: Did you get the chance to meet some of the Croatian artists you collaborated with through your work at Artslink at the opening of your exhibition at the Josip Račić Gallery ?

FRITZIE BROWN: I am back now in NYC and have had a bit of time to reflect on the experience: it was a magnificent reunion with so many old faces from the past - a very emotional moment and one I will treasure for the rest of my life. It felt like dozens of faces from the past appeared - really wonderful to see, for instance, Jelena Peric, Renata Poljak, Vlasta Delimar and Branka Cvejticinan, to name only a few. It was great to meet new people as well.

NMMU: Can you tell us something about your recent artworks executed in traditional visual disciplines such as watercolour, gouache, mixed media, collage on paper and canvas, together with a series of coloured figures executed in glazed stoneware currently presented at the Josip Račić Gallery? Your interest in working with art installation and multimedia has since shifted towards fundamental visual techniques. What led you to return to more classical art techniques of expression?

FRITZIE BROWN: My early work was very much more conceptual and dealt with feminist and political issues of concern to me. While I do think, probably too much, about politics today, the work in the show is a big departure for me. I feel it came about because of the curator's request that I stick to traditional disciplines mandated by modernism: painting or sculpture. As it happens and because of my age and decreased mobility, this turned out to be a perfect way to move beyond early personal trauma and troubling political issues and simply enjoy myself. As the child of artists and someone with some facility as a maker it was a joy to have fun with color and humor. I will always be thankful to Branko Franceschi for this encouragement and late life opportunity. Some would say this is frivolous use of time, but I feel that delight must be taken when available. Once again, our time here is short.

NMMU: How did it feel to be in Zagreb after twenty years, and how much has it changed from the way you remember it?

FRITZIE BROWN: I have visited your country many times since my first visit in 1998. Change happens gradually, and it has. When I first was there (I nearly wrote "here" as I feel so connected) the trauma of the war was tangible in that it occupied conversations always. Tempers were higher - things now seem more relaxed socially. The shopping mall in the Flower Square was a movie theatre and it seemed like absolutely everyone was smoking cigarettes all the time. Also the charming old-school advertising that stood above the buildings in Ban Jelic Square has been replaced with contemporary stuff - which is sad to me somehow. I'm nostalgic. Younger Croatians I have met have a very different attitude about their position in the world; Europe is open to them yet they are not anxious to leave. In the past I feel that people were more interested in leaving for the US or elsewhere. People seem to have more opportunities and agency.

NMMU: What effect does nature have on your creativity and how important is your connection with it in general?

FRITZIE BROWN: I am fortunate to have a small house in the forest about 2 hours north of the city near the Hudson River. My husband and I spend a lot of time watching the trees dance. This access to nature is important to me and to my art making as the pace and ethos here in the city as well as the lack of a studio make working in the city an effort.

NMMU: Apart from the Steve Cosson's concept (ink work Bang Bang Studios) does tattoo Temporary on your right hand has any other inner meaning?

FRITZIE BROWN: The tattoo is a personal reminder to myself that each moment is precious and that when opportunities for kindness and generosity arise, they should be pursued. None of us are going to be here forever so, I say to myself when I see that word, "don't waste time." Of course, I'm human and lazy, but I try.

NMMU: Materialism has prevailed in the world, what is the situation with art in that contect?

FRITZIE BROWN: The position of artists, especially here in the US is very tenuous. The art market is run by profit-driven galleries and collectors who harvest a very few young artists upon their graduation from expensive art programs and promote them to stardom. The system leaves behind masses of frustrated talent.

Interviewed by: Lana Šetka © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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